Candles and Rockets – low cost household solutions for better water and air quality

My name is Reid Harvey. I’m a ceramic industrial designer who has been working in water purification and energy efficient cook stoves for 30 years across Africa and Southern Asia, largely with local village potters.

Forming a candle filter in Burundi. (Photo: R. Harvey)

The current challenges of climate change, the pandemic and supply chain issues have struck deeply in the developing world and low-income communities. I’ve developed community water purification systems using granulated media and refined candle water filter design and production with a view to its open technology and standardization.

My life work has been to empower low-income potters and their neighbors by training them in improved ceramic processes and products. This starts in their use of local materials to make candle water filters and insulating rocket stoves. I have also trained this same population in production of biomass briquettes for use in these stoves. Because the stove gives no smoke at all, use of these briquetrtes as fuel prevents their need to cut trees for fuel or for production of charcoal. Importantly, solid fuel can indeed be burned cleanly.

Recently, while do training in Burundi, I had two breakthroughs in this work. In candle filter production, a new forming process was developed to both speed production and increase product consistency.

In production of insulating rocket stoves, a new process simplifies production of the insulating bricks. The highly energy efficient burn prevents smoke, essentially eliminating indoor pollution. A new design for the insulating rocket stove makes this portable, with upper liners for cook pots of whatever size.

Others might agree that these interventions, training the potters and their neighbors to produce the products they need, can lead to significant impacts in accomplishing nearly all of the Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs.

Building local capacity, the local economy and engaging the community in behavior change appears to be far more sustainable than sending such products into a community and leaving them reliant on external donations for the future.

I’m holding a webinar on Monday, November 22 at 10:00 am, New York time to review the breakthroughs referenced above and gather feedback about implementation strategies that would make these approaches more widespread. The link is below.

I hope you can find time to join this important conversation
Please join us for the webinar, Breakthroughs in Burundi – Innovations in Candle Water Filters and Insulating Rocket Stoves
Join the Zoom Meeting, Monday, November 22, at 10:00am, New York time, https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84767837460?pwd=K2JvU3F6RWtlbUtyODlIaFlaU1lBQT09


Candle water filter and rocket stove production by local potters has not been viewed as viable. This is because of such factors as the quality and consistency of the product and low production output. Two recent innovations in the means of production have significantly addressed these factors.These are nature-based technologies of candle water filters and insulating rocket stoves that will empower those in need with livelihoods. They will reduce their community’s exposure to waterborne and airborne pollution


Disclaimer: Any claims in an RWSN member eXchange article or video have not been verified and any views presented or services provided the individual organisation does not mean that they are endorsed by RWSN or any of it executive partners or Secretariat.

Rats! Village level ecological-based rodent management

by Meheretu Yonas, Luwieke Bosma and Frank van Steenbergen

Find out more from Meta Meta Research

Hygiene is arguably the more forgotten component in WASH. Within WASH, water and sanitation systems have received much attention and there have been important programs to promote hand washing and menstrual health and hygiene, rightly so. But several other dimensions of hygiene do not get the attention they deserve, in particular village pests that carry common diseases which they transmit to humans through direct contact, food contamination or other pathways.

Pest rodents (rats and mice) are important carriers of pathogens that cause diseases in humans and domestic animals. Different rodents have different behaviour and have different propensities to transmit those diseases. Some rodents, like the roof rat (Rattus rattus), prefer to live in the houses and storage areas. Other rodents may prefer the fields.

There are about 60 known diseases transmitted to humans and animals by rodents. Examples of diseases and parasites of public health importance include leptospirosis, salmonellosis, giardiasis, murine typhus (rickettsia), capillariasis and other helminths intermittently shed by rodents. For instance, salmonellosis is the cause of 25% of all diarrhoea cases worldwide. Leptospirosis affects more than one million people annually and cause more deaths than Ebola for instance.

We advocate that integrating a Village Level Ecologically Based Rodent Management (vEBRM) approach with the activities of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) helps improve nutrition, food safety and public health in the villages in Africa and Asia. vEBRM requires awareness and understanding of rodent habits and a change in people’s behaviour, as people often create the ideal conditions for rodents to multiply. Hence, vEBRM does not seek to just exterminate the rodents, but to control their access to food, their habitats, and movements and to make use of natural enemies.

Here are three important aspects:

Aspect 1: Rodents damage and contaminate food. They are a major cause of human diseases through a multitude of transmission pathways and infect livestock as well. They may attack people, especially children and the elderly. They consume food stores, damage property and some rodents will spread bad smells and create annoying noise.

Aspect 2: Inadequate waste disposal, grain and cattle feed storage methods aid the proliferation of rodent populations in villages thereby heightening public health issues.

Aspect 3: One cannot do this alone: like community WASH, vEBRM needs a systematic collective effort.

Here are the 10 Key Rules in vEBRM:

  1. Communities should first appreciate the fact that rodents are a problem for both agriculture and public health, and that it is possible to reduce rodent populations to close to zero.
  2. Collaborative, community-based participation is imperative at all stages of household and community-level sanitary and hygienic activities and in the introduction of proper storage and house construction to create a healthy village free of rodents. Adequate cleaning, trash removal and rodent-proof trash containers are necessary.
  3. Establish robust community awareness campaigns to achieve people’s behavioural changes towards rodents, food and grain storage methods and household and community-level waste disposal so that rodents are denied access to food and harbourage.
  4. Ensure regular inspection of houses, storage areas and gardens. Immediately repair openings where rodents passthrough and take shelter, such as fencing and stone-bunds. When observed, immediately remove any harbourage, rat runways, climbing spots, etc. It is important to understand that rodents are neo-phobic and learn the locations of new objects, food sources and escape routes very quickly.
  5. Traditional brooming is a special point of attention: especially hard brooms in rodent infested households have the potential to spread rodent-associated RNA viruses and bacteria by contaminated aerosols and arthropod vectors. Hence:
    1. Ensure minimal dust blows while sweeping using water and soft brooms.
    1. Use cloth or facemask to cover the mouth and nose.
  6. Construct storage houses and materials in such a way that it is impossible for rodents to enter (Fig. 3). Ensure that roofs, doors, and windows are fit tightly, and gaps and flaws are avoided. When detected, gaps and flaws should be sealed immediately with rodent-proof material. Interrupters may also be used.
  7. Make sure some of the most sensitive household items are protected from rodents:
    • Store food, grain, drinking water, household utensils in rodent-proof containers and cabinets to avoid persistent household-level re-infestations.
    • Store children/infant food, water and feeding utensils (such as plastic infant/children feeding bottles) in safe containers at all times.
  8. Encourage keeping domestic cats (and dogs) at household level (see Fig. 1) and discourage chasing and prosecution of natural predators of rodents (such as birds of prey, wild cats, mongoose, snakes).
  9. If after all these measures rodent infestation persists: use mechanical killing methods (local and commercial traps), flood rodent burrows, and use proven biorodenticides (ecologically sustainable rodenticides originated from plant materials) or selected chemical rodenticides to manage rodent populations. Avoid using chemical rodenticides that have no user application information and production and expiry dates.
  10. Establish and implement strict village (or neighbourhood) bylaws and rules to ensure household and neighbourhood sanitation and hygiene. Use a record-keeping system that lets the community know who are not respecting the bylaws, who are the offenders. Besides, develop and implement community strategy for a solid waste disposal system (including recycling). Additionally, introduce mandatory “one pit waste each, per household and per village” rule in the village bylaws. Organize groups and committees that create awareness about community sanitation and hygiene and are responsible for enforcing the bylaws. Assign responsible bodies for trash removal and maintenance of communal trash containers and trash dumping areas (pits).

Photo credit: Meta Meta Research “Cats, one of the natural predators to control rodent populations”

Rural Community Water Supply: Sustainable Services for All

Covid-19 gave me the chance to commit to paper (or electronic form, if you prefer) some of my understanding and experience gained over several decades. The outcome is a book, published earlier this year, entitled Rural Community Water Supply: Sustainable Services for All.

by Professor Richard C. Carter

Richard encountering some resistance in Kaabong, Uganda (photo. RC Carter)

Many hundreds of millions of rural people – the exact number is not known, and it is immaterial, except that it probably lies between one and two billion – experience inadequacies in the supply of the water which they use for drinking and other domestic uses.

These inadequacies are partly reflected in the ‘normative criteria’ as defined by the human right to water which apply to water services globally. These criteria ask whether and to what extent water services are available, accessible, affordable and acceptable, and whether their quality meets national or international standards. They also highlight the importance of cross-cutting criteria (non-discrimination, participation, accountability, impact, and sustainability).

Continue reading “Rural Community Water Supply: Sustainable Services for All”

New from WaterAid: Piped water supply services: strengthening management models in rural and small town contexts

Re-blogged from WaterAid

Many governments have set ambitious targets for reaching people with piped water services. Providing water taps in people’s homes is one way of achieving safely managed access in line with the Sustainable Development Goal for water. But installing more household taps must come with stronger efforts to professionalise service management, ensure adequate levels of support, and that services are inclusive. Without paying sufficient attention to these and other aspects, there is a risk that piped water supply services will under-perform in low income areas, resulting in poor service levels and lost investment. There are, of course, alternatives to tapped water supplies, and these should be considered where a piped service is not viable.

This publication is the second in a series focused on management models for piped water services in rural and small town settings. The first publication, Management models for piped water services, set out the factors that affect the sustainability of piped water, presenting ten different management models. This publication is a decision-making resource and is designed to help practitioners select or strengthen management arrangements for piped water supplies in different contexts. It compares the viability of the ten management models against the following four variables:

  • Commercial viability and economies of scale
  • Technical complexity, connectedness and local capacity 
  • Sector policy, legislation and financing arrangements
  • Regulation and accountability mechanisms, local preferences, and ensuring inclusive services for all

Top image: Nawoli Jesca, 25, commercial officer, and Nkundizana Julius, 25, team leader of the Busolwe Piped Water Supply System check on a pipe to the main water reservoir in Butaleja District, Uganda, November 2018. 

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3 ways to improve water security for climate resilience

1. More accurate and granular analysis of climate risk is needed to increase relevance of climate information
2. Metrics for monitoring climate resilience in water systems are critical to track progress and inform investments for water security
3. New institutional models that improve water security will be critical for climate resilience

Dr. Katrina Charles, REACH Co-Director

In case you missed it, last week REACH launched its new Water Security for Climate Resilience Report, synthesising six years of interdisciplinary research on climate resilience and water security in Africa and Asia. You can also read a summary of the full report with recommendations.

The REACH programme has been partnering with RWSN since 2015.

Water security and climate resilience are interlinked.

This may seem like a simple statement, but in reality it is a complex relationship. Water security and climate resilience are both about managing risks – from water-related issues and climate-related hazards, respectively – to achieve better outcomes for all sectors of society. There are intuitive relationships at large scales, but underlying them are complexities shaped by the environment, and our interactions with it.

Climate change headlines often focus on temperature increases. These changes will be significant and have severe impacts as highlighted by the heatwaves in recent weeks in North AmericaPakistan and India. These increases in temperature come with dramatic changes to our weather, in turn affecting the complex water systems that are essential to so much of our lives and our planet. Floods and droughts are the most visceral example of this impact, which also receive regular coverage on the news. But climate change is affecting water security for humans and ecosystems in many more subtle ways.

Climate change is impacting our drinking water supplies. There is a limit to how much capacity they have to absorb weather extremes, especially for smaller systems. Heavy rainfall is linked to many major waterborne outbreaks in developed countries. A major drought led to severe water rationing in Cape Town in 2018, nearly causing the city’s taps to run dry, known as Day Zero. The report highlights that for smaller water systems that people outside cities rely on the impact of weather is often less clear, but the evidence is that there is limited climate resilience.

Water quality varies with weather. Rainfall increases the mobility of faecal contamination, with different types of system more vulnerable to heavy rainfall, exposing the users to diseases such as typhoid. Without reliable water supplies, people use a range of water sources to meet their water needs year-round, trading off risks between reliable water supplies that might be saline or expensive, with seasonal but unsafe water sources. Climate change will increase weather extremes leading to increased contamination and less reliability.

Fresh water scarcity is increasing. Industrialisation and urbanisation are increasing both the demand for fresh water and its pollution, with toxic compounds that are difficult to remove. Climate change is amplifying these threats by reducing the availability of reliable water, increasing salinity, especially in coastal areas, and changing river flows that flush saline and polluted water. Reduced river flows from changing rainfall patterns will increase exposure to pollution for those who rely on river water for washing and bathing, and increase saline intrusion from the coast. Building resilience requires better management of fresh water resources to reduce the increasing contamination that is making water harder to treat.

Women using river water for washing in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Credit: Sonia Hoque
Women using river water for washing in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Credit: Sonia Hoque

To build the adaptive capacity of water systems to cope with changes in climate, climate information needs to be available to water managers at the appropriate spatial and temporal scale. Ensembles of global climate models provide useful information about global climate, but analysis is needed to identify the relevant climate models that best capture local climate. More investment is needed to provide the tools that water managers need to make informed decisions to increase climate resilience, such as accurate projections at local scales and seasonal forecasting based on understanding of local climate drivers. The information needed varies for different users, but is critical to build resilience for managers of small water systems, reservoirs, and basins.

The report synthesises six years of interdisciplinary research by the REACH team across Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Collaborations in our Water Security Observatories have allowed us to understand how water security risks are experienced, how inequalities are created and reproduced with new policies, and how new tools and science can support better decision making. The report highlights the impact the REACH programme has achieved with funding from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), in partnership with UNICEF, for the benefit of millions of people. It concludes with three recommendations for to advance water security for climate resilience:

  1. More accurate and granular analysis of climate risk is needed to increase relevance of climate information
  2. Metrics for monitoring climate resilience in water systems are critical to track progress and inform investments for water security
  3. New institutional models that improve water security will be critical for climate resilience

Climate change will increasingly affect water availability and quality, with devastating consequences for the most vulnerable. Improving water security is critical to build resilience to the changing climate.

El camino hacia el desarrollo de herramientas para el manejo de activos

Esta entrada fue realizada por PRACTICA Foundation como miembro de la RWSN.

En el ultimo post, se mostraron las herramientas para el manejo de activos que se estan desarrollando por la Alianza WASH Internacional. Las experiencias previas demostraron que utilizar un enfoque basado en los usuarios es importante para incrementar el impacto de los proyectos. Para este caso, las actividades principales incluyeron un mapeo de usuarios y sus necesidades, diseño de herramientas y pruebas en campo asi como su promocion en las comunidades.

Aditi Goyal, coordinadora de Smart-tech se refiere al proceso de diseño como uno basado en pequeñas iteraciones.

“Hay muchas maneras de llegar al mismo punto. Lo importante es llegar a donde el usuario necesita que lleguemos

Ella se refiere a las características, usabilidad y adaptabilidad de las herramientas que se están desarrollando. Destacando la importancia de escuchar los puntos de vista de todos los actores que se encuentra involucrados en el proyecto. De experiencias previas, Aditi está consciente que los primeros borradores siempre tienden a ser completamente diferentes a lo que se entregan como producto final. Sin embargo, el proceso de confrontar y discutir las ideas conlleva a una etapa de maduración de las mismas.

El proceso

A continuación, se presenta el proceso que se ha adoptado para el desarrollo de las herramientas para el manejo de activos:

1. Mapeo de usuarios y sus necesidades

El proceso comienza con trabajo de campo, interactuando con las comunidades locales para entender el contexto en el cual se van a utilizar las herramientas. Este proceso incluye un mapeo de quienes serán los usuarios finales, definir sus características en relación a sus medios de vida, conexión a internet, nivel educación y a la manera en la que actualmente obtienen y utilizan la información relacionada a sus sistemas de agua. Definitivamente, esto contribuye a determinar acertadamente cuales son las características de las herramientas que harán la vida de los usuarios mas fácil.  Un enfoque participativo e inclusivo asegura que los grupos vulnerables sean tomados en cuenta durante todo el proceso.

2. Diseño y desarrollo del producto

En esta sección se aborda la forma final que tendrán las herramientas, así como su contenido. Este proceso se lleva a cabo por medio de múltiples iteraciones que deben incluir a todos los actores. De acuerdo a la experiencia de la Alianza WASH Internacional, un buen mapeo de necesidades siempre facilita el proceso de diseño. Comúnmente, este proceso se lleva a cabo por medio de trabajo de campo. Sin embargo, debido a las restricciones impuesta por la pandemia de Covid-19, esto no fue posible para este proyecto.

3. Pruebas, promoción y entrega de las herramientas.

Este proceso no se ha realizado aún. Una vez que las herramientas hayan sido programadas y probadas por las organizaciones locales en Nepal (CIUD y Lumanti) se va a identificar y a proveer de apoyo técnico a una institución local que se encargue de implementar y adoptar las herramientas en todo el país. La aplicación web, el tablero de control y la herramienta de aprendizaje online serán circuladas con todos los grupos para los que ha sido diseñada. Las herramientas se encuentran en un ambiente publico para permitir cambios y mejoras conforme son necesarios (para este proyecto, el ambiente de Moodle ha sido seleccionado). El software recibirá mantenimiento por los próximos 5 años, por la misma compañía que lo desarrollo.

Lecciones aprendidas…hasta ahora.

Algunas reflexiones finales han sido obtenidas de las discusiones que han tomado lugar en el proyecto.

Los comentarios de los usuarios son de suma importancia para lograr herramientas robustas. El equipo de diseño necesita pasar tiempo en el campo, entrevistando a los futuros usuarios y entendiendo las necesidades reales. Muchas veces, lo que creemos que necesitan los usuarios, tiende a ser completamente diferente a lo que realmente necesitan. Flexibilidad, comunicación y buena planeación ayudan a solventar las dificultades en los proyectos. Por ejemplo, para este proyecto no fue posible realizar trabajo de campo debido a las restricciones impuestas por Covid-19. Para superar esto Smart-tech distribuyó las herramientas con el personal de campo para verificar su usabilidad y obtener comentarios con respecto a su implementación en condiciones reales. Estas acciones incrementan la comunicación entre los actores involucrados, ayudando a alcanzar las metas de una manera mas eficiente. Como se refiere Aditi:

‘Tener una planeación adecuada ha sido importante para el proyecto, ya que permite monitorear los productos y revisar si se han alcanzado las metas en tiempo y forma’

Agradecimiento especial para Aditi Goyal por su participación al proveer información para este blog. Este documento has sido creado por la Fundación Practica como miembro de la Alianza WASH Internacional, como p arte del Consorcio WASH SDG. Para mas información por favor contactar: info@practica.org; o visita http://www.practica.org. Foto: CIUD Nepal.

La feuille de route pour le développement d’outils de gestion des actifs (GA)

Ceci est un blog de la Fondation PRACTICA, organisation membre du RWSN.

Dans le précédent article, les outils de GA en cours de développement par la WASH Alliance International ont été présentés. Nos expériences précédentes ont démontré qu’il est important d’adopter des approches inclusives et centrées sur les utilisateurs pour augmenter l’impact des activités du projet. Les principales étapes que nous avons suivies pour mettre en place une telle approche sont détaillées dans cet article.

Aditi Goyal, la coordinatrice du développement de l’apprentissage en ligne chez Smart-tech (une entreprise technologique népalaise) qualifie ce projet de « processus itératif continu ».

« Il y a plusieurs manières d’arriver au même résultat. L’important est d’arriver là où les utilisateurs nous emmènent »

Elle fait référence aux fonctionnalités, à la convivialité et à l’adaptabilité des outils à développer. Être à l’écoute du point de vue de chacun représente un atout pour la mise en œuvre du projet. Ses expériences précédentes lui ont apprises que les premières ébauches ont tendance à différer complètement de ce qui est livré en tant que produit final. Pourtant, elles sont essentielles au processus de maturation dans lequel les idées sont confrontées, partagées et améliorées par un processus de rétroaction continue.

Feuille de route 

1. Évaluation des besoins et cartographie des utilisateurs

Nous avons commencé en allant sur le terrain afin d’interagir avec les communautés locales et de comprendre le contexte dans lequel les outils de GA seraient pilotés. Une cartographie des utilisateurs potentiels a été réalisée, incluant la définition de leurs caractéristiques en termes de moyens de subsistance, de connectivité internet, de taux d’alphabétisation, et la manière dont ils collectent et utilisent actuellement les informations pour effectuer des travaux sur les systèmes. L’objectif ayant été de définir les besoins auxquels les outils doivent répondre. Une approche participative et inclusive a été adoptée afin de garantir la prise en comptes des groupes vulnérables et de leurs besoins dans l’ensemble du processus.

2. Conception et développement

Cette étape a permis de décider à quoi ressembleraient les outils, comment les informations seraient présentées, et le contenu devant être priorisé. C’était un processus long car plusieurs itérations ont été effectuées avant que tous les acteurs impliqués soient d’accord sur le produit final. L’expérience de l’Alliance Internationale WASH montre qu’une bonne évaluation des besoins facilitera toujours le processus de conception. Idéalement, le travail sur le terrain doit avoir lieu pendant les itérations pour évaluer si le développement est en bonne voie. Cependant, en raison des restrictions imposées par le Covid-19, il n’a pas été possible d’effectuer toutes les vérifications sur le terrain durant cette phase.

3. Test, promotion et mise à l’échelle des outils.

Ce processus n’a pas encore eu lieu. Une fois les outils programmés et testés, les partenaires locaux de l’Alliance Internationale WASH au Népal (CIUD et Lumanti) identifieront et fourniront une assistance technique aux hôtes institutionnels qui suivront la mise en œuvre et l’adoption des outils dans tout le pays.

L’application, le tableau de bord et l’outil e-learning seront diffusés auprès des différents groupes cibles. Les outils seront fournis dans un environnement open source pour permettre une mise à l’échelle et une amélioration continue (par exemple, Moodle a été sélectionné pour l’apprentissage en ligne). Le logiciel sera techniquement maintenu et mis à jour pendant une période de 5 ans par la société de logiciels sous contrat.

Leçons apprises… jusqu’à présent

Des leçons clés ont été extraites des discussions avec les parties prenantes impliquées concernant leurs expériences dans ce projet et ailleurs.

Les commentaires des utilisateurs sont extrêmement importants pour développer un outil robuste. L’équipe doit passer du temps sur le terrain, échanger avec les futurs utilisateurs et comprendre leurs principaux besoins. Ce que nous pensons que les utilisateurs veulent et ce dont ils ont réellement besoin sont souvent deux choses différentes.Flexibilité, communication et bonne planification aident à surmonter les difficultés des projets. Il n’était pas possible de mener des travaux sur le terrain en raison des restrictions liées au Covid-19. Mais pour surmonter ce problème, SmartTech a partagé les outils avec les agents locaux qui ont effectué les vérifications et obtenu des retours sur la convivialité et l’opérabilité des outils. Une bonne communication entre les acteurs impliqués, aide à atteindre les objectifs de manière plus efficace. Comme Aditi le mentionne :

« Suivre le calendrier de planification est important depuis le début du projet, cela m’aide à suivre les livrables et à voir si les objectifs ont été atteints à temps »

Des remerciements particuliers vont à Aditi Goyal pour ses idées sur le processus de développement d’outils. Ce document a été développé par la Fondation Practica en tant que membre de l’Alliance Internationale WASH, partenaire du WASH SDG Consortium. Pour plus d’informations : info@practica.org / http://www.practica.org. Crédit photo: CIUD Nepal.

The road map for Asset Management tools development

This is a guest blog by RWSN Member Organisation PRACTICA Foundation.

In the last blog post, the Asset Management tools under development by the WASH Alliance International were presented. Previous experiences demonstrated that including user-centered approaches is key to increase the impact of project activities. The main activities for this project include a needs’ assessment, user story mapping, tool design, field testing promotion and the roll out of the tools.

Aditi Goyal, the e-learning development coordinator at Smart-tech, a Nepalese tech company, refers to this project as a continuous iterative process.

“There are many ways to get to the same place. The important thing here is to get where users take us”

She is referring to the features, usability and adaptability of the tools under development. Highlighting the importance of listening to everyone’s point of view represents an advantage for project implementation. From her previous experiences, she knows that first drafts tend to differ completely to what is delivered as final products. However, they are useful for the maturity process in which the ideas are confronted, shared and thus improved by a continuous feedback process.

The roadmap

Below, we present the process adopted to develop the asset management tools:

1. Need’s assessment and user story mapping

We began the process by going into the field. Enabling the interaction with local communities and understanding the context where the asset management tools would be piloted. This process included mapping of the potential users, defining their characteristics in terms of livelihoods, internet connectivity, literacy rates, and their current way of collecting and using information to perform works related to water system management. This supported in defining what the tools need to do to make their lives easier. A participatory and inclusive approach has been adopted to ensure that vulnerable groups and their needs were also considered in the whole process.

2. Design and development

This included deciding how the tools would look like, how the information would be presented, and the content that needed to be prioritized. This has been a lengthy process since multiple iterations needed to be done until all involved actors agreed on the final product. From the WASH Alliance International experience, a good needs’ assessment will always facilitate the design process. Normally, fieldwork should take place during the iterations to assess whether the development process is on the right track. However, due to the restrictions imposed by the spread of Covid-19, it was not possible to conduct all field verifications during this phase.

3. Testing, promotion and scaling of the tools.  

This process has not taken place yet. Once the tools have been programmed and tested, the local partners of the WASH Alliance International in Nepal (CIUD and Lumanti) will identify and provide technical assistance to the institutional hosts who will monitor the implementation and adoption of the tools throughout the country.

The app, dashboard and the e-learning tool will be circulated among  different target groups. The tools will be provided in an open-source environment to enable further scaling and improvement (for example for the e-learning Moodle has been selected). The software will be technically maintained and updated for a period of 5 years by the contracted software company.

Lessons learned…so far.

Key lessons have been extracted from the discussions with involved stakeholders regarding their experiences in this and other related projects.

User feedback is extremely important to make a robust tool. The team needs to spend time in the field, talking to future users and understanding their main needs. What we think users want and what they actually need is often quite different.

Flexibility, communication and good planning helps to overcome difficulties in projects. For example, there was no possible to conduct fieldwork due  to Covid-19 restrictions. To overcome this issue SmartTech shared the tools with local field officers to do the verification and to obtain feedback about the usability and operability of the tools. These actions enhance communication among involved actors, helping to achieve goals in a more efficient way. As Aditi refers:

Following the planning schedule has been important since the beginning of the project, it helps me to track the deliverables and to see whether the goals have been achieved on time’.

Special thanks go to Aditi Goyal for her insights on the process of tool development. This document was developed by Practica Foundation as a member of the WASH Alliance International, partner of the WASH SDG Consortium. For more information please contact: info@practica.org; or visit http://www.practica.org. Photo credit: CIUD, Nepal.

My RWSN mentoring experience

This is a guest blog by RWSN mentee Edwin Kiprotich Kiplagat , who is currently enrolled in the 2021 RWSN Mentoring Programme .

I am Edwin Kiprotich Kiplagat, a young and an ambituous Civil Engineer by training from Kenya. I currently work as an intern for the Water Infrastructure function at SMEC in Kenya. SMEC is a global engineering consultancy that provides design, supervision and project management services in the fields of water infrastructure, roads, urban and social development. The company is Australian based with several regional offices around the world. I am based in the Kenyan office in Nairobi which is the East African regional office serving the countries of Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo.

I got to know of Rural Water Supply Network through LinkedIn social media network. I later got access to the information on RWSN mentorship program via a post shared in the same platform. It was an exciting prospect for me and I could not wait to choose a mentor.  I registered for the program and outlined my objectives for participating in the program. My choice to participate in the program was propelled by the need to get a role model who would guide my goal to grow and apply engineering and management skills in providing clean water, sanitation and positive impact in the society. The aforementioned choice was further guided by the following objectives which I look to achieve: to gain advice on areas and avenues to further my education in postgraduate studies and professional courses relevant to water supply, to gain motivation on community development as I aspire to use engineering knowledge to develop and support community water supply projects in future and to wrap it all since I am a Christian, I am interested in leveraging my faith and my career in impacting people’s lives which I believe can be achieved by providing clean water as part of Christian mission work.

I found a mentor from Guyana in South America named Elon Ryan Sooknanan. My motivation to choose him as my mentor was spurred by the fact that we share a career in common and also through LinkedIn I discovered that he had ever participated in a church-related volunteering experience which drew my attention. I was convinced that he will assist me in achieving my objectives. Since we established touch towards the end of March, Elon and I have always opted to interact via WhatsApp which we found it efficient for both of us. We had an inaugural call where we familiarized with each other and from there agreed on the manner of interactions going forward. Since Elon also mentors other mentees in RWSN forum, he has divided his time to have a call with each mentee monthly. Due to the difference in time zone of seven hours between Kenya and Guyana, Elon and I have always agreed on a suitable day and time for both of us to have a call and discuss on matters relevant to the mentorship program.

Through the mentorship program, I have learnt through the interactions I have had with Elon. He advised on changes needed to upscale the competitiveness and presentation of my CV. One thing I remember him stressing on is the vitality of a CV in giving a clear impression of oneself to a stranger who has never met the owner of the CV.  He also shared with me a water related short course opportunity offered by an Italian Institute known as Hydroaid that delved on climate change and water. I applied for the short course but unfortunately as a result of the restricted number that made it competitive I fell short of the selection. I hope to one day participate in the Hydroaid Program and also other short course that are in tandem with my goals. Furthermore, Elon has allowed his RWSN mentees to interact with one another through a WhatsApp group created and a monthly zoom meeting forum where each one shares highlights and resources in the field of water supply and sanitation. This has helped me connect with a network of professionals from different fields in the water sector. Elon also introduced me and other mentees to a Christian leadership development programme called God’s Apprenticeship Programme that helps develop faithful leaders around the world who can use their influence to transform their nation.

I am grateful I not only found a mentor but a friend who has inspired me. By the end of the program I hope to achieve milestones such as having an up-scaled competitive resume of myself; broadened knowledge in water, sanitation and hygiene plus leadership skills to mentor others in future. In a nutshell, personally and professionally I have been introduced to the idea of growth through sharing of ideas and challenging oneself to create an impact in the society which I believe is possible in the water sector.

About the author and his mentor

Edwin is a Civil Engineer by training working as an intern for the water infrastructure function at SMEC in Kenya. He has a BSc degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Nairobi. His training has equipped him in the field of hydraulics, hydrology, water resources management, structural engineering, highways and transportation engineering. He has been engaged previously in feasibility studies of small hydropower projects and currently assists in preparation of proposals, tender documents, Expression of Interest, design reviews and reports for various projects in the water function in SMEC International Kenyan office. He is enthusiastic to learn more of computer applications in engineering to solve societal needs and is passionate of the water sector in engineering.

Elon Ryan Sooknanan is an accomplished Civil/WASH Engineer with 10+ years of office and field experience, knowledge and skills. He hails from Guyana, South America and currently serves as the Head of Infrastructure & Projects at the Environmental Protection Agency in Guyana.

About the RWSN Mentoring Programme

For more information on the RWSN Mentoring Programme, please see here. RWSN is grateful to the SENSE Foundation for its support of the mentoring programme in 2021.

My RWSN mentoring experience

This is a guest blog by RWSN mentee Gaurav Thapak and RWSN mentor Pallavi Bharadwaj, who are currently enrolled in the 2021 RWSN Mentoring Programme .

Mentee’s Thoughts

I am an architect and urban planner with the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), New Delhi, India. I work extensively in the urban areas on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services as one of my main focus areas. My postgraduate thesis was also focussed on water supply and its economics in an urban area. Earlier this year, I discovered the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN). A few months after I joined RWSN their mentorship programme was launched. I signed up for this programme in anticipation of growing by learning from an expert. I wish to develop a career in water economics and governance, and anticipated that this mentorship programme would be a great opportunity to steer myself in the right direction.

I  envisioned what I sought for myself out of this programme and stated in my application that I would like to work with a mentor, who could broaden my horizons in water supply and management in rural and urban areas. Ms. Pallavi Bharadwaj accepted my mentorship proposal. Pallavi lives and works in the United States of America, and has over a decade and half years of experience working in the global WASH sector. I was extremely glad to be accepted for the mentorship and consider myself fortunate to have Pallavi as my mentor. 

We scheduled our first meeting close to the deadline of mentorship agreement submission. It was a short introductory meeting for about half an hour. Despite the time zones difference, I was excited to meet with her. I had not set forth clear goals and outcomes of my mentorship arrangement. However, through our discussion, Pallavi understood where I was in my career and what I sought. She helped me identify my learning goals. We started out by setting three broad goals for me:  

  • pursue a Ph.D in water governance and policy, 
  • engage with social sector in water and wastewater sector, 
  • a particular case development and exploration of how gamification can help nudge and model consumer behaviour.

We agreed that a monthly video meeting for an hour or so would work to touch base and evaluate my progress. 

As I write this blog post, it has been over two months since the mentorship began. We have already met three times along with having numerous conversations on email, phone and social media. I regularly reach out on email and LinkedIn to seek suggestions and share ideas for various projects and competitions. Pallavi has always been kind and prompt to provide her inputs, comments and resources to facilitate my work, even if that might not have been a part of my original learning goals. Since we are now connected on LinkedIn, Pallavi often shares content to aid my professional development, suggests interesting events and talks to attend, shares job opportunities and connects me to her network. She has already facilitated an introduction with a student in Mumbai to further foster and develop collaborations for my professional growth. 

My mentorship’s scope has extended above and beyond what my mentor and I had originally agreed upon. I am glad that Pallavi is available to answer my questions and shares interesting as well as thought provoking content with me on an ongoing basis. I find it easier to connect and collaborate with people, whom I am comfortable to have a dialogue with. Through our conversations Pallavi has made it easier for me to discuss ideas and concepts that are new and nascent for me in a clear and professional way. 

I recommend every young professional in this sector, who has any doubts or confusion and wants to explore beyond their horizons, to sign up for this mentorship programme. I am very grateful to have Pallavi as my mentor, and thank RWSN for initiating this relationship.

Mentor’s Thoughts:

I have been part of RWSN’s mentorship program for two years now. Gaurav was the second mentee that reached out to me for working together and I agreed to be his mentor in 2021. 

Through this relationship, I am not only sharing my knowledge, but also global experience as a WASH professional. In return, Gaurav is helping me learn even more about current trends in WASH management systems and challenges facing the underserved communities. I appreciate his ideas on utilizing the power of technology, such as gamification, for solving challenges in real time. For the remainder of this mentorship we will work together to connect his work to policy and advocacy, in light of United Nations Sustainable Goal 6 (SDG6), clean water and sanitation for all. It is my hope that through this mentoring relationship, Gaurav and I will be able to utilize our time working towards providing solutions for in-need communities. 

About the RWSN Mentoring Programme

For more information on the RWSN Mentoring Programme, please see here. RWSN is grateful to the SENSE Foundation for its support of the mentoring programme in 2021.